Saturday, June 29, 2013

Keep your slate clean

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
— Bruce Lee

Do you admit your fault when you are in the wrong? It may seem like one of the most difficult things to accomplish, yet self-accusation is a healthy habit, a self-cleansing process. Listening to your voice of conscience rather than the voice of your ego makes you feel good about yourself. Little else does as effectively. The inner voice, as it is also known, judges your behaviour towards others and, more importantly, towards yourself. Having scruples, a sense of what is right and wrong, determines your character; it tells you, and others, the kind of person you really are. Saying “I am sorry” each time you are in the wrong enables you to wipe your slate clean and keep it that way. It's the duster of your soul.

Let nothing frighten you

St. Teresa of Ávila 

Let nothing disturb you; 
Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing;
God alone is changeless.
Patience attains the goal.
Who has God lacks nothing;
God alone fills every need.

St. Teresa’s centuries-old spiritual message is one of the most inspiring passages that can be used effectively in times of crisis. The words can be recalled during prayer and meditation or uttered as a positive affirmation. You can jot down these words on a piece of paper and carry it in your pocket and read them whenever you feel like. They will help soothe the troubled mind and dispel fear within. The words will give you strength to weather the passing storm.

Let your ego go

When you are dealing with people every day, you are dealing with their egos too. Big, inflated egos. Vast reservoirs of misplaced pride and hurt. Mingled with their egos is your own grandiose sense of self-importance. When the two clash, as they inevitably do, the outcome can be damaging to both and to others around you. So one or the other must pull back. The question is who blinks first.

The question answers itself.

Whenever you are caught in an ego headbutting situation, be the first to blink. Pull back. Turn around. Go away. You will think swallowing your pride makes you seem like a coward. On the contrary, it will make you feel good about yourself. Holding on to that little devil inside you can do more harm than good. This way you not only win the war without fighting the battle, you keep your peace too. Let the other person steam inside.

But why should you give in first? You should because an ego fight is never worth the trouble. Most of the time your ego goes into the ‘me first’ gear over issues that are really…no issues. Looking back, you will recollect little or nothing of the many incidents where you were involved in a ‘shouting down’ contest with someone you most likely didn’t know. At that moment, holding your ground and preserving your pride may have seemed like the most important task of the day. On hindsight, you will realise how silly it all was, if you remember anything at all.

Every time you are offended when someone you think has rubbed you the wrong way, ask yourself before you respond: do I give back or do I let it go? In those few seconds, think calmly and carefully. Chances are you will let go. Reason will triumph over rashness. This is because, at heart, you crave for stability every moment of your life. We all do.

The ego has an annoying habit of turning up in nearly every situation you perceive as a threat to you and your conditioned existence.

To illustrate this point: a few days ago, two men collided into each other while alighting from a crowded suburban train in Mumbai, an everyday occurrence. One of the men recovered himself and was about to walk away when the other man turned around and abused him. This set off a verbal spat between the two. Eyes were locked, words were exchanged, and abuses were hurled. After much huffing and puffing, the men went their separate ways, each feeling supremely important in his own right, each thinking “I stood my ground.”

What ground? There was no ground in the first place. All they managed to do was ruin their day. Whether you win or lose, an ego fight leaves you feeling bitter the rest of the day. It can also be mentally exhausting. The incident keeps playing over and over again in your mind. How often have you come home from work and talked about it as if there was nothing else to talk about? How many times have you harped on it even if you had the upper hand? If you were in a favourable position, why does it bother you so much? It bothers you because it’s not in your nature to behave the way you did and you most likely felt downright silly no sooner you did.

This is why you must chase away the ego as soon as it knocks on the portals of your mind. If you let the fellow in, he’s going to overstay his welcome and probably spoil your weekend with the family.